DEA Final Rule Increases the Allowable Number of Patients for Maintenance and Detox

May 26, 2008

On May 22, 2008, the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) issued a final rule to allow every qualified practitioner to offer maintenance or detoxification treatment to 30 patients without obtaining a separate registration regardless of the number of other qualified practitioners within their medical practice.  DEA previously limited group medical practices to 30 patients.  In addition, qualified practitioners can now treat up to 100 patients if they submit a second notification indicating the need and intent to treat the additional patients to Health and Human Services at least a year after submitting their initial notification.

Prior to passage of the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 (“DATA”), the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) and DEA regulations required practitioners to obtain a separate DEA registration as a Narcotic Treatment Program (“NTP”) to conduct maintenance and detoxification treatment using narcotic drugs.  DATA amended the CSA by establishing waiver authority for practitioners who dispense or prescribe certain narcotic drugs for maintenance or detoxification treatment.  DEA promulgated regulations to permit qualifying physicians to dispense and prescribe schedule III, IV and V narcotic drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for maintenance and detoxification for up to 30 patients in their practice without obtaining a second registration as an NTP. 

The final rule, which takes effect on June 23, 2008, will allow practitioners to treat more patients.  This should improve treatment in areas currently underserved for addiction treatment.

By John A. Gilbert and Larry K. Houck